It’s time to make basic protections for women refugees a priority!

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© UNHCR/A.McConnell

© UNHCR/A.McConnell

By Nicole van Huyssteen, Women’s Human Rights Thematic Specialist 

Can you imagine not eating or drinking to avoid being watched by men as you shower or use the bathroom? Or being too frightened to sleep because of unwanted advances from single men sleeping in the same crowded spaces at night? These are some of the daily realities faced by many refugee women as they travel alone or with young children in tow as they try to reach places of safety for themselves and their families. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

President Obama, Stand with Women and Girls Raped in Conflict

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FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images

FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images

Globally, up to one out of every three women will experience physical and/or sexual violence in her lifetime. Gender-based violence (GBV)—which includes sexual violence—is an issue worldwide, and during armed conflicts or humanitarian crises the risks to women and girls are often heightened. Although survivors of sexual violence are not exclusively female, rape and other types of sexual violence predominantly affect women and girls. Rape is frequently used as a form of torture and as a weapon of war, and often results in unwanted pregnancy. Despite this commonly cited fact, women who become pregnant as a result of rape are often unable to access the care that they need because of U.S. legislative barriers to safe abortion, namely the Helms Amendment. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Refugee Women on Greek Islands in Constant Fear

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AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis

AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis

By Giorgos Kosmopoulos, Amnesty International

LESVOS, Greece – Shirin, an Afghan journalist, was once shot at by the Taliban. After fleeing near-fatal attacks in her country in the hope of finding safety in Europe, she now lives in constant fear in a transit refugee camp in Greece. She is, in fact, just one of many women who have fled harm and persecution, only to face new fears of sexual harassment and violence in the camps on the Greek islands.

“We are treated like animals. I’d rather be shot again than endure these conditions,” Shirin, not her real name, told Amnesty International at the Kara Tepe camp on the island of Lesvos.

It was 18 months ago that the Taliban shot at Shirin’s car. Initially, she fled to Kabul, where she found another journalism job, this time behind the camera. “It’s very dangerous for a woman journalist in Afghanistan,” she said. She continued to receive threats over the phone, and eventually it became too much. She left Afghanistan for Europe. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Salvadoran Authorities Want to Send Maria Teresa Back to Jail

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First portraits of Maria Teresa Rivera free. She spent 4 years in prison before a court dropped the charges against her on 20 May 2016. María Teresa was one of "Las 17" group of women in prison out of suspicion of having had an abortion.

First portraits of Maria Teresa Rivera free. She spent 4 years in prison before a court dropped the charges against her on 20 May 2016. María Teresa was one of “Las 17″ group of women in prison out of suspicion of having had an abortion.

Maria Teresa Rivera’s recent release from prison was a major victory for women’s rights in El Salvador. Nonetheless, the nation’s Attorney General has said he intends to appeal the decision overturning her conviction. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

El Salvador – Maria Teresa thanks supporters after release from jail

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First portraits of Maria Teresa Rivera free. She spent 4 years in prison before a court dropped the charges against her on 20 May 2016. María Teresa was one of "Las 17" group of women in prison out of suspicion of having had an abortion.

First portraits of Maria Teresa Rivera free. She spent 4 years in prison before a court dropped the charges against her on 20 May 2016. María Teresa was one of “Las 17″ group of women in prison out of suspicion of having had an abortion.

By Maria Teresa Rivera

On 20 May 2016, Maria Teresa Rivera was finally freed from prison in El Salvador after a judge dismissed the charges against her. In 2011, she had been given a 40-year sentence after suffering a miscarriage. Thousands of people across the world rallied to her cause. This is her thank you message to everyone.  

I want to thank everyone who supported me and who never left me alone, everyone who believed in me and always said that I was innocent even though you did not know me. This was very special to me.  SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Worldwide Activism Brings Justice for Maria Teresa Rivera!

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"Isabel and "Ruth" (not their real name) are the mother in law and neighbor of María Teresa Rivera, one of "Las 17" women who are imprisoned in El Salvador with charges of "aggravated homicides" under the suspicion of having had an abortion.

“Isabel and “Ruth” (not their real name) are the mother in law and neighbor of María Teresa Rivera, one of “Las 17″ women who are imprisoned in El Salvador with charges of “aggravated homicides” under the suspicion of having had an abortion.

“Today, we celebrate Teresa’s freedom, her joy, and her tears upon reuniting with her ten-year-old son. This is the result of the actions in solidarity taken by thousands of people and various organizations in El Salvador and other countries.”
The Citizens’ Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion in El Salvador

On Friday, May 20, a Salvadoran Court held a resentencing hearing for Maria Teresa Rivera, a woman who was serving a 40-year prison term for allegedly killing her newborn child. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Jailed in El Salvador after losing their pregnancies

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26 Nov 2014, San Salvador, El Salvador --- (141126) -- SAN SALVADOR, Nov. 26, 2014 (Xinhua) -- Women of different feminist organizations take part in a march asking for the freedom of 17 women accused of abortion, on the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women, in San Salvador, capital of El Salvador, Nov. 25, 2014. United Nations figures showed that 35 percent of the women and children in the world suffer from physical or sexual violence throughout their life. And in some countries and regions, the figure goes up --- Image by © [e]LUIS GALDAMEZ/Xinhua Press/Corbis

(Xinhua Press/Corbis)

For many of us around the world, Mother’s Day falls on May 8th this year, which also marks Teodora’s 36th birthday. Teodora has spent eight years in prison, and will spend yet another birthday and another Mother’s Day, which comes just two days after ours, without her family. 

Amnesty campaigner Karen Javorski takes us inside one of El Salvador’s most notorious prisons to meet Teodora del Carmen Vásquez and María Teresa Rivera, women jailed after pregnancy complications.

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Sentenced to Eight Years in Jail for a Miscarriage

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Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 10.40.11 AM

By Debbie Sharnak, Argentina-Paraguay country specialist and Magdalena Medley, Women’s Human Rights thematic specialist

A 27-year-old woman, known as Belén to protect her identity, has spent the past two years in pre-trial detention accused of self-inducting a miscarriage. After the accusations, Belén was arrested by authorities because abortion is illegal in Argentina except under certain circumstances. Belén, however, denies these allegations and tells a different story. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

6 reasons why we still need International Women’s Day

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Malika 'La Slammeuse' photographed by Leila Alaoui in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on 13 January 2016, as part of the My Body My Rights campaign.

Malika ‘La Slammeuse’ photographed by Leila Alaoui in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on 13 January 2016, as part of the My Body My Rights campaign.

By Shiromi Pinto

Since 1975, 8 March has been a rallying point for feminists worldwide. Established by the UN, it has traditionally been a moment to celebrate women’s achievements while highlighting serious inequalities between the sexes. But 41 years later, is it still necessary?

The answer is yes. Women and girls may have scaled unimaginable heights in politics, science, arts, sports and business, but they are still struggling. Not just for equal pay, which is a concern on so many people’s minds today – but for their basic human rights. Nowhere is this plainer than in women’s struggle for their sexual and reproductive rights. Here are six reasons why we think International Women’s Day is more important than ever. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST